“See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.” (Galatians 6:11-18)
In closing, Paul follows the rules of good communication: Tell people what you are going to tell them; then tell them; then tell them what you told them. Maybe then we will get it. So once again he confronts the Judaizers (the Jewish legalists) and defends the cross and the gospel of grace to the church in Galatia, this time in his own handwriting (rather than his scribe’s) using large letters for emphasis. He exposes the sinful motives of the Judaizers. They use force and pressure to “try to compel you to be circumcised,” and the reason is they are afraid, “so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.” Then they take pride in their converts (scalp–hunters) “so that they may boast in your flesh.” (“they only want you to be circumcised so they can boast of their success in recruiting you to their side.” The Msg.) And on top of that they “do not even keep the Law themselves” as required by God: “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT CONTINUE TO DO EVERYTHING WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW.” (Deut. 27:26) “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” (James 2:10) “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23)
The cross is an offense to man’s pride and self-righteousness. (Gal. 5:11) People find it insulting to be told that they are too weak and sinful to do anything to contribute to their salvation. Yet the “world system” (anti-God and under Satan’s power) accepts “religion” because it is where man can take pride in his own good works and feel his works are good enough to be accepted by God. “The righteousness that God requires (for salvation) is the righteousness that a perfectly righteous God is required to require.” God doesn’t forgive sins. He forgives sinners who accept His costly payment for their sins on the cross.
“But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (v. 14a) Man boasts in (publicly or to ourselves) what he feels gives him a sense of self-worth and significance. The world boasts in position, possessions, popularity, power, success, looks, wealth, intelligence, education, etc. (See Jer. 9:23-24; Luke 16:15) If we boast in the cross we are not bragging about being saved (i.e., “I’m saved and you’re not”) but boasting about Jesus Christ and what God has done for us in Christ which gives us confidence and security that we are dearly loved and accepted by God forever and are heaven-bound.
“Through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (v.14b) Paul is saying here that he (and all believers) are no longer under the judgment of the world system that has been judged by God. Unbelievers in the world are not on trial awaiting God’s verdict, they are under His judgment and wrath now (John 3:18, 36) unless they repent and receive Christ as Savior. “I have been crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20) and this is true for all believers; substitutionary atonement. God credits Christ’s death for sin to my account and then credits me with Christ’s righteousness. (2 Cor. 5:21) And Paul is also saying that he is crucified to the world system (Gal. 5:24) in the sense he no longer values what the world tells us to value. It no longer pulls on him to have his needs met as he walks in the Spirit. “Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.”( 1 John 2:15-17 The Msg.)
“For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation (being born again; 2 Cor. 5:17). And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them (believing Gentiles), and upon the Israel of God (believing Jews).” (vv.15-16) So Paul reiterates that the law means nothing for our acceptance with God for we have been born again and now are led and empowered by the Spirit to obey the Lord (“who walk by this rule”- means following the indwelling Holy Spirit, not external rules). The “Israel of God” does not mean that the church replaced Israel (See Romans 11). This refers to Jews who have received Jesus as Messiah and are a part of the church.
“Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.”(v. 17) We see here and in 2 Corinthians that Paul defends his true apostleship not by the many miracles that God did through his life but by his deep and long suffering for the cause of Christ. “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” (2 Cor. 11:23-30) This was what Paul suffered because of his obedience to God, not for God’s discipline for his sin. It may help us to read this when we suffer (so little compared to Paul and especially to Jesus) for our Lord. (See 1 Peter 2:19-23.)
Until He comes again,
Len and Kristen